Cecil Selwyn’s review published on Letterboxd:
-Oh he can't stop it. There is no stopping what can't be stopped...only God...can stop it.
-But the New York Times said "God is dead"!
Went ahead and moved this up to my favorite film of all time. Nothing quite hits the way Southland Tales does; it's equal parts comedic tour de force, brilliant sci-fi parable, and deeply moving spiritual apocalypse drama. I have no fucking idea how that tonally works, but it fucking works, baby!
There's this thing Kelly does in all his films where the characters subconsciously push the plot forward, as if driven by something beyond them, often only hinted at in the actual text. It gives the films a sense of metatextual engagement for the viewer; we're constantly aware of the artifice of what we're watching, but this artifice doesn't make what's happening any less meaningful or emotional. It reminds me why I love narratives, and rather than cheapening the experience or robbing it of its emotional core, that idea is what gives Kelly's works a sense of cohesive purpose. While oftentimes this translates into characters with a resignation to their fates, it's interesting to see what they do when made aware of this inevitability.
They carry on. The characters still push forward, even when completely aware of their end. Even when it couldn't be clearer that doom is around the corner. Kelly perfectly captures the doomer mentality in Donnie Darko, sure, but also subverts and enriches it even further with this film. The irony piles up and doubles in on itself until all that's left is a raw sincerity in spite of layer upon layer of self-awareness. Emotional honesty and raw willpower is all we have left in a world that's gone insane, surrounded by people with double and triple agendas, and that's quite inspiring to me, if a bit melancholic. Which, is like my favorite kind of inspiration.
I'm a pimp, and pimps don't commit suicide.
Gonna fast-track a video essay on this because there's so much more to say, but for now that's what I wanted to explore. Hope y'all are all doing well out there.